Drug Proliferating

There was an uproar recently about a company (Turing Pharmaceuticals) which acquired the rights to an old, very effective medication and then promptly raised the price from $13.50 per pill to $750.00 per pill. As it turned out, this is not a rare occurrence.

A recent (Sept. 29. 2015) article in Time magazine discloses other examples:

· Doxycycline (antibiotic) 4 cents to $3.70 – 8281%.

· Albuterol (asthma drug) 11 cents to $4.34 – 4014%

· Glycopyrrolate (irregular heartbeat) $6.50 to $127.70 – 2728 %

·  Digoxin (irregular heartbeat) 11 cents to $1.10 – 884%

· Divalproex Sodium ER (migraines and seizures) 39 cents to $2.93 – 736%

· Pravastatin (high cholesterol) 5 cents to 39 cents – 573% 

On 10/5/15, the New York Times ran a front page article on the drug price manipulation of Valeant Pharmaceuticals and its CEO J. Michael Pearson. Valeant’s business model is to buy up existing drugs and raise prices aggressively (an average of 66%) rather than try to develop new ones.  According to the article, Valeant spends only 3 % of sales on research and development whereas most big drug companies spend 15-20 %.

            I strongly recommend that you read this article.

Patent laws are designed to give incentive to researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs to research, discover and innovate. However, it is clear that something more needs to be done on the federal level to more equitably balance the medical needs of the public against the abuses of unrestrained capitalism.